Monday, January 17, 2011

Are Australia the new West Indies?

When I was a lad, I remember watching the 1995 West Indies tour of England. Little did I know at the time that I was witnessing a pivotal point in history. I was dimly aware of Windian dominance against England, but the well-fought draw did not itself suggest to me immanent collapse of the once strutting mega-stars.

I am now old enough to appreciate any such spectacles life throws at me today. I have experienced enough inevitable disappointments, sufficient certain disasters and a more than adequate amounts of predestined catastrophes to be able to spot future failures.

Now, as the Australian bunny blinks mindlessly back into my headlights, my mind quickly recalls the many fiascos in which it has participated, just before engaging the wind-screen wipers to remove the debris.

Unlike the current Australian side, the 1995 West Indies team had hope. They had some world class bowlers and a sprinkling of legendary batsman. Currently, Shane Watson has the role of Brian Lara.

But, it is difficult to see where the future lies for Australia. Much is made of the post 1986-7 cull, but who do they replace the old guard wife? Michael Beer and Phil Hughes?

No one wants to be captain. No one can captain.

No one can bowl, either. Not even Michael Beer.

There are glimmers of hope in the batting department. Much as there are glimmers of sanity in the Tea Party.

The only solution I can see is either scouring the English leagues for anyone who has a secret Australia shame in the bloodline – or a sun tan.

Or, merging with New Zealand. The Oceanic Islands may yet conquer the world.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Dreaming in the colour of cricket

The problem with cricket on the other side of the world is the poor hours it keeps. Last night, I feel asleep to the congenial banter between Jonathan Agnew and Vick Marks. Apparently, as a statement of support for pinkafied cancer awareness day, Marks sported a pair of pink pants.

Vaguely, my sleep-fogged mind caught the early wicket of James Anderson, the nightwatchman, but by then it was too late. The damage was done.

I eventually passed out, to be haunted be a night of terrible visions. Firstly, I dreamt that was a spectator at the SCG. Having never visited Australia, the ground took the form of something akin to a polo stadium in Libya.

Slowly, I, and some surprisingly rowdy friends, watched the innings unfold. Alastair Cook took a quick single and a fluke collection saw the stumps thrown down. An appeal was made, but so languid was Cook’s run that it appeared a rather optimistic enquiry.

The third umpire’s screen loomed large over us. I saw that Cook was out of his ground upon impact. I reported to this to my disbelieving colleagues. Cook’s innings was over. A disaster. A collapse.

Never fear, Kevin Pietersen was next man in. A good opportunity for vengeance. I turned to my friend that didn’t speak Afrikaans, “you speak Afrikaans” said I “hurl some proper abuse”. He made those deep, throaty sounds that marks Low Dutch as an excellent language for insult.

Stirred by these pleasing noises, the entire English contingent launched into a tirade of abuse directed towards the advancing Saffer.

I awoke to briefly hear some continued underwear exchanges, to the delight of one and to the discomfort to the other.

Sleep once again took me, but this time to the SCG’s men’s toilets. In there, were the firmly planted feet of David Shepherd, the now-deceased umpire. In his unexpectedly broad Scottish accent, he delivered some rather scathing opinions concerning the Umpire Decision Referral System as I made use of the neighbouring urinal.

Imagine my joy, therefore, upon hearing that England were destroying the Australian bowlers. Two centurions and a lead of over 200. Marvellous. Marvellous. It almost makes like worth living during the grim, post-Christmas return to the terrible truth of reality.